The concert of John Hinckley Jr. in Brooklyn, a rarity planned with the music of a man best known for his attempt to assassinate a U.S. president was canceled Wednesday by the venue, which feared a backlash in a “dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate.”
Hinckley, 67, who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and was found not guilty of insanity, has been living under restrictions in Virginia since 2016 but was granted unconditional release effective Wednesday. Mr Hinckley plans to use that release to put on what he calls a ‘redemption tour’, playing his original music on stages across the country.
But that plan has met a number of roadblocks as venues withdrew its scheduled concerts, including the Market Hotel, a concert venue in the Bushwick borough of Brooklyn, which posted a statement on social media Wednesday saying it was Mr. Hinckley on July 8 was canceled.
“It’s not worth gambling on the safety of our vulnerable communities to give a man a microphone and a salary from his art who didn’t have to earn it, whom we don’t care about on an artistic level and those of upset. people in a dangerously radicalized, reactionary climate,” the statement said.
The audience appeared to announce the decision with regret, writing in the statement that “this man acting does not harm anyone in any practical way.”
“This is a sixty-year-old with an acoustic guitar,” said the audience. The statement went on to say that while they believed that ex-convicts and people with mental illness should deserve a chance to “re-engage fully with society”, they made the decision after considering “very real and aggravating threats and hatred towards our vulnerable communities.”
In 2020, a federal judge in Washington ruled that Mr. Hinckley was allowed to publicly display his writings, artwork and music under his own name after his treatment team told the court about his frustrations at having to post his music anonymously online. Since then, Mr. Hinckley uploaded videos of his original songs and covers to his YouTube channel, which has over 28,000 subscribers.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Hinckley said this tour would be his first time playing his original songs live, and that he was disappointed by the cancellation, although he said he understood the venue’s concerns about safety.
“I watch the news like everyone else – we live in very, very scary times, to be honest,” Mr. Hinckley said. “I would only have continued with the show if I had felt safe with the show and felt that the audience would be safe.”
An attorney for Mr Hinckley, Barry Levine, wrote in an email that there had been “increasing threats” that could endanger Mr Hinckley and those in attendance and that he agreed with the decision to cancel.
But Mr. Hinckley said a promoter he was working with was looking for a new location in New York City. Locations in Chicago and Hamden, Conn., which previously hosted Mr. Hinckley had planned, the concerts have also been canceled.
In 1981, after seeing the movie “Taxi Driver,” in which the main character plots to kill a presidential candidate, Mr. Hinckley said he had come up with his plan to kill Mr. Reagan in an attempt to impress Jodie. foster. He waited outside the Washington Hilton, where Mr. Reagan was speaking, on March 30, 1981, and fired six shots as the president left the hotel. The shots hit the president; James S. Brady, White House Press Secretary; Timothy J. McCarthy, a Secret Service agent; and Thomas K. Delahanty, a police officer. Mr Brady died of his injuries in 2014.
Mr. Hinckley was sent to a mental hospital in Washington for more than twenty years. The judge set a final release date for June 15, without any restrictions, after determining that Mr Hinckley had met several conditions, including mental stability.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has opposed the unconditional release of Mr. Hinckley, writing in a statement that the organization was “saddened and concerned that John Hinckley, Jr. will soon be released unconditionally and intends to pursue a music career.” striving for profit.”
Patti Davis, one of Reagan’s daughters, has opposed lifting restrictions on Mr. Hinckley, writing in an op-ed in The Washington Post last year that she feared “the man who wielded that gun and almost got his wish to assassinate the president might decide to contact me.”
But supporters of Mr. Hinckley see an important message in society that allows him to perform in public after decades of rehabilitation.
“This is what the world needs to see, which is the ability to rehabilitate,” said Andreas Xirtus, a California podcaster who has covered Mr. Hinckley supports. “Somehow his spirit is still there and he’s making a positive impact with music.”
Mr Levine said in the email that his client hopes the public understands that he has changed since the 1980s.
“While he knows his name is associated with an act of violence,” wrote Mr Levine, “he hopes people of good will will understand that when he committed those acts he was beset with a mental illness — a condition to which he is not suffers longer.”